If We Pray

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It's amazing how great modern CCM artists make theology so simple: "We will find hope if we pray." There's also the soulful and bouncy hope that Jesus will return "One Fine Day," whose vocals are so seamless that to the casual genre fan, this might sound like Point of Grace. That spirit of lyrically positive, musically funky, and richly textured vocals by Steve and Da'Dra infuses the duo's fifth album, a thoroughly fresh reminder of God's love, faithfulness, and the power of prayer to sustain in good times and bad. Produced by a stellar list of producers (Mark Hammond, Tommy Sims, Christopher Harris, and Dan Muckala), this collection -- which balances the jumpy, shouting tracks, like "Rejoice," with more introspective meditational ballads, like "You'll Never Thirst" and "I'm Praying for You" -- pushes the envelope creatively, musically, and vocally, bringing out a distinctive sound in a group already known for a one-of-a-kind vocal talent. A little of the Babyface spirit infuses the acoustic guitar-driven "Things I Wish," adding yet more diversity. Depending on one's tolerance level for corny interludes, listeners may love or be very annoyed with the opening track, "Ashley's Prayer," and "Monty's Prayer," innocent prayers by children that add cultural import but distract from the flow of the music ever so slightly.

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